Dealerships: Focus on What You CAN Control

Dealerships: Focus on What You CAN Control

Written By Ted Rubin

Nothing discourages taking action quite like the feeling of not being in control. 

It doesn’t matter the context or situation. A lack of control leads to anxiety and fear, which can manifest negatively in all aspects of life. 

Think about the pandemic for a moment. COVID-19 added much uncertainty to our lives, and the constantly evolving health science around it led to ever-changing guidelines to follow. We would get used to one, only to be whiplashed into another. 

The automotive industry has recently encountered something well beyond our individual control: an inventory and chip shortage. This has led to a hard stop in completing vehicle production and has those in the car sales business more uncertain about the future than ever before. The impact of this shortage, coupled with the pandemic, certainly left us in a confusing free fall. 

Uncertain Times, Indeed

If you’re wondering about the level of uncertainty regarding the chip and inventory shortage, this article from MotorTrend can shed some light on that

The world will have lost 11.3 million units of production in 2021 because of the chip shortage, according to AutoForecast Solutions. Drive by any almost empty dealer lot to see what this looks like on the ground. The impact could be another 7 million units in 2022 and 1.6 million in 2023, IHS forecasts.  Economists at Cox Automotive do not expect the wholesale car market to reach pre-pandemic and pre-chip crisis levels until at least 2025.”

In short: we’re in it for the long(ish) haul. Thankfully, the automotive industry is filled with extremely flexible and adaptive people who can create opportunities out of obstacles! 

Control the Controllable

There are fewer cars to sell. There are next to no new vehicles in the pipeline (and if there are, they aren’t driveable). What can be done? 

It’s time to gain control of the controllable. 

As a dealership, you have multiple avenues of revenue and profit centers. Recalibrating your perspective and approach to adapt to this ever-changing automotive sales climate will be key in weathering the shortage storm. 

3 Ways Dealerships Can Stay in Control During an Inventory Shortage

With low to no inventory, dealerships can keep the train rolling with some creative strategy change-ups. It’s important to keep your head up and focused so that the uncontrollable aspects of this shortage don’t discourage you. A constant eye on the horizon will keep you innovating and thriving. 

Here are three ways you and your dealership can control the controllable: 

  • Campaign for More Inventory. 

We know you’re supposed to be selling cars. But, you need cars to sell cars. Your surrounding community is a treasure trove of pre-owned inventory waiting to happen! Facebook and other social platforms can be great places to publicize the need for inventory. Be sure you have someone knowledgeable answering those messages. How many are working from home these days and no longer need that second car? Get the word out in every way you can think. 

Right now, customers are getting enticed with handsome offers for their trade-ins. This can be an opportunity to campaign and reach customers ready to part with their vehicles, make an attractive offer on their vehicle and add it to your pre-owned roster, and establish a great working relationship with them that could potentially lead to long-term loyalty. 

In addition to this, don’t forget about your certified pre-owned inventory. While new inventory isn’t really a thing right now, customers who prefer new could be interested in next-to-new options to further push available inventory. Happy buying!

  • Waitlists, Reservations, and Orders

With supply low and demand high, customers are combing dealership websites searching for their perfect car (or any inventory at all, really). We discussed this in our last blog (How to Reassure Customers in an Inventory Shortage), but it bears repeating: 

Dealership websites are currently not well-equipped to capture and engage digital-bound customers on the move during a shortage. 

Whether it’s by removing the names of models not currently in stock (but ones you could potentially dealer trade or order) and missing out on critical SEO, or extending a form or, preferably, live human engagement to perform a needs analysis, dealerships are missing out on crucial touchpoints to retain and reassure. 

You can also tailor behavioral ads to entice customers on the dealership website hunt. ActivEngage’s ActivTarget can help reassure flighty customers that are leaving your website quickly, which can allow them to engage one of our Customer Engagement Experts or fill out a form for follow-up or waitlisting on incoming vehicles. 

You know that fixed operations are a crucial revenue center. While you likely have your stable of regulars and returning service customers, your SEO and website accessibility can play a huge part in capturing more customers in your local community. 

Performing a digital analysis for your fixed ops SEO and equipping your website with live human engagement that can help new or returning customers schedule service appointments can go a long way. You may even be getting the high traffic due to great SEO, but with no engagement or advocacy, those customers might be frustrated into leaving. Humans handling those incoming messages can promote previously declined services as well as set up future appointments to ensure a pipeline of revenue.

ActivEngage can perform an SEO/general digital analysis to ensure there are no pesky search obstacles to your dealership being a highly accessible resource. In addition to this, ActivEngage is integrated with some of the most-utilized service scheduling platforms, like XTime and TimeHighway. With these integrations and our highly-trained Customer Engagement Experts, we see an average of 15% increase in show rate and a $60 increase per RO!

ActivEngage Helps You Stay in Control in an Inventory Shortage

The chip and inventory shortage has affected the automotive industry in unprecedented ways. ActivEngage can help you control the controllable with a suite of products designed to engage and retain customers who have found themselves in a situation just as uncertain as we are. 

Our products and offerings are inherently equipped to navigate difficult times like the pandemic, or the chip and inventory shortage. In addition to the products referenced in this blog, we also offer: 


Ready to discover how ActivEngage helps your dealership succeed?